I’ve written this post in response to a man who is in favor of the physical nation of Israel rebuilding an earthly temple.
You quote Ezekiel as being proof or justification for a worldly temple to be rebuilt today, as though it’s with the blessings of God because of what you read in Ezekiel 38-48; but that isn’t true or applicable under the New Covenant and here is why:
During the time of Daniel, Ezekiel and Nehemiah the children of Israel were in Babylonian captivity and at the beginning of that captivity, Solomon’s temple had been destroyed.
“And in the fifth month, on the seventh day of the month, which is the nineteenth year of king Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, came Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, a servant of the king of Babylon, unto Jerusalem: And he burnt the house of the LORD, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about.”
Solomon’s temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. This happened before the writing of Ezekiel which reads, “…in the fifth day of the month, which was the fifth year of king Jehoiachin’s captivity…” in which Ezekiel saw visions of God. Jehoiachin was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar in 2 Kings 24:8-15.
1.) Solomon’s temple was destroyed.
2.) Ezekiel sees visions of God 5 years later
detailing the blueprints for the temple to be rebuilt.
3.) 65 years later, Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem.
4.) The LORD warns the people by Haggai the prophet to rebuild the temple.
5.) The people finish rebuilding the Old Covenant temple in Ezra 6:14-18
God was giving detailed instructions to Ezekiel to rebuild the earthly temple again at the appointed time which was completed in Ezra 6:14-18. God instructed Ezekiel to teach them the laws of the house of God.
“And if they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them.”
The things described to Ezekiel involved: “…and the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering; for the place is holy.” (Eze 42:13) Those offerings were commanded under the Old Covenant only, until the time of reformation; and were not to be offered under the New Covenant which the LORD said He would make with the house of Israel.
Contrast that with the New Covenant God made with the house of Israel. The apostle Paul describes and teaches the Jews who knew the Old Covenant laws but had not yet been instructed on the laws governing the New Covenant.
But it’s clear that Ezekiel is teaching the laws of the Levitical priesthood to the sons of Levi; but we are told under the New Covenant that God made with the house of Israel that there has been a change of the priesthood and of necessity a change in the those laws; because there is no longer a worldly sanctuary because it was replaced with the TRUE original one in heaven.
The true tabernacle in heaven was showed to Moses for him to have as a pattern to make the earthly worldly sanctuary. The heavenly sanctuary can also be found in Hebrews 12:23 and Revleation.
“If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood,
(for under it the people received the law,)
what further need was there
that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec,
and not be called after the order of Aaron?
For the priesthood being changed,
there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Paul was teaching the Jews in Hebrews the differences and similarities between the Old and New Covenants which God made with them; the house of Israel. After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the New Covenant had been established and all the household of Israel, who had been governed under the Old Covenant, were learning the laws and ordinances of the heavenly sanctuary where Jesus was now the only High Priest. Paul went on to explain that the offerings and sacrifices of the New Covenant were superior to the temporary and imperfect sacrifices of the Old; and he tells them why.
“Which stood only in meats and drinks,
and divers washings,
and carnal ordinances,
imposed on them until the time of reformation.”
“But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by His own blood He entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
“Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.
“And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”
“And every priest standeth daily ministering
and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices,
which can never take away sins:”
“For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me:”
“In that he saith, A New Covenant, He hath made the first old.
Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
“Then verily the first covenant
had also ordinances of divine service,
and a worldly sanctuary.”
This makes it perfectly clear that under the Old Covenant they had a worldly/earthly sanctuary; but under the New Covenant they have a heavenly sanctuary. God has let us all know that the first (Old Covenant) has been finished/ended.
“Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum:
We have such an High Priest,
who is set on the right hand of the throne
of the Majesty in the heavens;
A minister of the sanctuary,
and of the TRUE tabernacle,
which the Lord pitched, and not man.”
In Haggai 2:9, the LORD promised that the “latter house” would be greater than the former. He wasn’t speaking of the second temple which was no where as wonderful as the one Solomon had built. No temple built after Solomon’s has exceeded in its glory, physically speaking. Haggai was prophesying about the spiritual house of God; we are all partakers of that One Spirit and are built up as a spiritual house, one that EXCEEDS in glory to any earthly temple made with the hands of men.
“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
“But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.”
The ministration of death was the animal sacrificial system which always brought forth the death of the animal. But the ministration of the Spirit, is the Ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest who “ever liveth to make intercession” for us. He does that by administering the Holy Spirit to us here on earth (into our hearts) from the heavenly sanctuary where the bible says he is working and mediating the New Covenant in His blood (the Holy Spirit) which is now sprinkled upon our hearts (we are the temple of the living God here on earth).
“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh; And having an High Priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised;)”
Under the Old Covenant, the only one who could enter the holiest of all was the High Priest, and only once a year. He had to be without sin, he had to offer first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. If he had any unconfessed sin on his record; in other words if he approached God in unholiness/sin, he would have been killed immediately. It’s a really, really big deal that our heavenly Father tells us that anyone who is saved by Jesus can enter into the holiest place of all. Jesus tore down that partition; that separation we had between us and our Father. Every day when we pray, we enter the throne room of glory and the angels present our prayers on the holy alar with incense.
“But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now He hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”
Where did God prophesy that He would shake heaven also? It was in Haggai when He told them that the “latter house” would be greater than the former house. (Remember, no earthly temple has ever exceeded the glory of Solomon’s temple.)
“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the LORD of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the LORD of hosts.”
The Lord Jesus Christ was the glory that filled that earthly house when He came in the flesh; but He fills our earthly bodies with His Holy Spirit under the New Covenant. He does this from the TRUE tabernacle IN heaven. Finally, “and in this place will I give peace”, Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”